Upper zone for slide film?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by jernejk, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. jernejk

    jernejk Member

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    As I mentioned in another thread, I'm going to shoot slide film after years of pause.

    I got myself elite chrome extra color (I'm going to shoot nature, and I like warm, saturated colors). I'll also try to get Velvia.

    My question is, what is the maximum zone slide film renders in general? Should I put highlights in zone VII or rather VI+1/2 just to be safe?

    I don't have a spot meter but just partial metering of Canon 500, which has quite large surface area and does not register small stand-alone bright spots very well.

    Also, what is a safe zone for "Caucasian palm" metering? VI seems ok for negative film, but that lives very narrow zone VII for really bright highlights.

    Thanks.
     
  2. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I live in Southern California, and we don't have any "Caucasian Palms". Lots of Mexican Fan Palms, Washingtonia
    Palms and date palms. :tongue::wink: :D

    OK, kidding aside:

    I shoot Kodachrome and have always used as a basis one stop over a careful reading off my palm. Experience tells me when I need to deviate from that, but it's seldom much, unless I'm looking for a low-key or high-key look. Most slide film likes a little underexposure if anything, but I know a lot of people like a little extra exposure with Velvia 50, like a half stop, to keep shadows from blocking too much.
     
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  3. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I am not familiar with the Canon 500, but suggest meter, AEL, then meter again in another area, and observe the metered difference. A better start would be with a spot meter (multispot and averaging function). There is an important pont to be made: most slide films, particularly Fuji's Velvia (50, 100F), return the very best results exposed in diffuse, rather than spectral/point, light (e.g. bright sunny days) at which times the contrast range is way beyond what the film can handle. The Canon 500 only has partial metering? No CWA??

    Metering from palm of hand is not always foolproof. VI would be a ballpark figure in bright sun, then V in diffuse light, much less in very flat light. Or use a grey card. Experimenting with your chosen film's behaviour in various lighting conditions will give you a lot of valuable information to play with; so what if you stuff up, it's experience! :tongue:
     
  4. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    You will probably get a bigger proportion of correct exposure with slide films using the cameras partial metering than trying to tie yourself in knots with trying to apply The Zone System to exposing reversal film where you have to "Think backwards", because the more exposure you give it the lighter it gets. I would be very interested if anybody has a successful method of applying The Zone System to transparency films, because in more than fifty years I have never seen one.
     
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  5. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I forgot to mention what M. Poisson Du Jour did.
    A grey card is preferable to a palm. It gives a direct value.
    I use my palm because it's more portable than a grey card, and I never set it down and then forget it. :wink: But when I am really being critical with exposure I use a grey card. With the palm it's important to be sure there are no shadows or surface reflections, as it's not completely flat. Of course with a grey card look out for surface reflections, too.
    In practical use Sunny 16 works fairly well, especially as a benchmark.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For slide film, I usually put the highlights on Zone VI-1/2 or VI-1/3, depending on what camera I'm using and where the stops are. Sometimes I might bracket in 1/3 stops, because there can be a range of "correct" exposures with different emphasis or overall tone in each one.
     
  7. debanddg

    debanddg Member

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    As a thumb rule I prefer slight underexposure based on figuring out a neutral tone portion to meter off from the scene.. I do apply variations to it depending on how I want the outcome to be i.e. whether I would like the neutral area to be as it is or slightly darker / brighter. Checking the highlight areas to assess if it would be within the exposure latitude or not gives some confidence. Blocked shadows are a problem with slides and so I do take some care not to be driven solely by the highlights.

    Also, be aware that Velvia 100F gives murky shadows at times.. With 50, that is rarely a problem.
     
  8. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Maybe I had it backwards then. I don't myself use Velvia.
     
  9. epavelin

    epavelin Member

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    I find Velvia highlights 'blow out' at about Zone VII+1/3 in Zone System terms. That's +2.3 stops. I would put a highlight with a hint of detail at +2, and a highlight with full detail at about +1.5. I find there is more range in the shadows, with -3 stops still holding a little detail.

    Personally I don't think in terms of Zones for colour transparency work, but rather in terms of stops, as in 0, +1, +1.5, etc. The Zones are too coarse for slides.

    You will also need to fine tune your ISO to get the results you like. I shoot at 32 using my Pentax Digital Spotmeter.

    Ed.
     
  10. jernejk

    jernejk Member

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    Right, I should have used the term "f-stops", not zones. I'll adjust my exposures for highlights and see how it turns out.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The "Caucasian palm" is your hand. Take a reading of the palm with the sun on the palm for a subject in the sun; take a reading of the palm with the shade on the palm for a subject in the shade. But the palm of all skin colors and races does not have skin pigment so it works for everyone. I used that when I was shooting slides on a ski slope because the light meter reading would produce slides that showed the contours of the snow and the mogals, but everthing else would be black or almost black. This gives good results when the lighting is tricky.

    Steve